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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
My, What a Lovely Straw Man

If he only had a brain.

This came up in the latest post from WFA.

Those awful, evil, manhating feminists have been claiming that women are injured more often than men comic books. (Actually, one commenter seems to claim that we not only don't care if white male heroes are injured, we *like* it. We're also hypocrits because we don't want women to be hurt but also don't want them to be out of danger.)

So this brave, swimming against the tide poster has taken the Women in Refrigerators list (this in itself is not a problem - no need to reinvent the wheel, after all) and for almost every woman on that list, he found several men who had similar injuries (or injuries he judged to be similar) and from that he deduced that more men are injured than women and so the feminists should have no complaints.

And, yes, he claims this is just a rough draft that's been sitting around his computer for years and he just now decided to get it off his computer by posting it (um. Yeah.), but there are several problems with this.

The question isn't have more women than men been injured in absolute numbers. Of course more men have been hurt, damaged, wounded, and killed in comics. There are more of them. The question is proportion. We need to know the absolute numbers of male characters and of female characters. We need to know the numbers of injured male characters and injured female characters. And we need to know the ratio of injury for both.

(We also need to define injury, of course, or the number will be 100% and none of this will mean anything.)

Until then, it's just a lovely straw man.

Comments
(Anonymous)

The first quiestion we need to ask is, "why are there so many deaths and pointless injuires at all in comics?" Because it's gotten really bad of late.

Well, superheroing and villaining ARE dangerous jobs, so you'd expect some - even a lot - of injuries, but yeah, the death count has been very high in the past twenty or so years.

I haven't read that list, but I seriously doubt the examples are going to be equal, except maybe on the physical part of the injury (and even then, I think that far less male characters have been raped than female ones). I mean, male heroes just don't get hurt or killed as often to merely provide a female hero with angst. I'd be suprised if there was a female hero with as many tragically dead boyfriends as Daredevil's dead girlfriends for example.

Matthew Murdoch is the Job of the comic book universe - I'm surprised Milla's lasted *this* long.

Yes - most of the male types have been injured in combat,usually against overwhelming odds. Women - well, in the hands of a good writer that will happen (Black Canary's legs were broken in an extended battle - and we got to see her fight despite them; Hippolyta died quite heroically during Worlds At War), but often they're sacrificed to someone else's plotline. Like Jade.

As for rape victims - there's convincing argument that whatever else happened to Dinah in Longbow Hunters, it wasn't rape. On the other hand, Joker was quite happy to add insult to injury. The only male rape victim that comes to my mind was Apollo - and he's gay, which adds an entirely different level to things.


It's not just proportion of injuries to extant heroes/villains of either gender, it's how they're presented; I don't have a comprehensive list, even in my head, but I'm willing to bet that women are more likely to be tied up in body-revealing ways, more likely to have their antagonists getting MUCH too close and more likely to be subjected to innuendo, even in "all ages" stuff.

In a different genre, James Bond gets tortured once a movie, but it rarely involves him being naked.

I only recently saw "Casino Royale" and I enjoyed the way it really seemed to be the Woman's Bond in some ways, in that there were a couple of explicit turnarounds in how that sort of thing worked.

Of course, in the end it was the girl who died for Bond angst, but it's still Bond.

Well, other than my jokingly reminding you that the straw man in the Wizard of Oz is the one who actually did have brains (which is why I hate using the particular simile you did), I always enjoy seeing you use the scalpel of logic to dismantle a specious argument. Thank you for brightening uyp my day.

Yes. The Scarecrow had intelligence. This particular straw man lacks a brain - that's the problem.

And thank you!

Well said. tigerbright thought you might need my commiseration, but I think you have the arguments all covered. *cheers you on*

Thank you!

You know, he might have had a convincing argument - if he'd just crunched the numbers.

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As <lj user="ratcreature" says, it's not about who gets injured. It's about who gets injured as part of their own story and who gets injured to provide story for somebody else.

Oh, yes. I agree with that. I'd love to know (roughly) how many of those women were injured solely on their own account and not because of a male character or to advance a male plot line.

as the author of that...

... I have to wonder, did you make the same comment when you saw WiR? Did you say, "This is just a strawman" when you saw it since you didn't know how many female and male characters there are? Did you ask if Gail had a brain?

Also please note that I made a couple other points with it. For instance, being kidnapped and losing one's powers are essentially universal to all comic characters.

Re: as the author of that...

Welcome to my livejournal. Thank you for showing more courage than I did.

I didn't see that list when it first came out, so I'm not sure what my reaction would be, and I certainly do think that I would prefer hard numbers along with a list of names. Honestly, my first sighting was on your blog.

However, Gael wasn't making comparisons in this list. She was just *making a list*. Do I think she should have? Yes - a comparison of all women characters vs. women characters injured would have been something both interesting and useful.

My basic problem with your argument is that there are simply *more* male characters than female characters, and so any comparison between the two needs to be adjusted for that fact. This was not done. And if you're only dealing with the fact that they *are* injured or killed, then the percentage injured among both approaches 100%, and both your list and Gael's become useless. Superheroes and villains have dangerous jobs. Having relationships with superheroes and villains is also dangerous.

To make it work properly, meta would have to be factored in, and that's very subjective.

And another thing!

And, yes, he claims this is just a rough draft that's been sitting around his computer for years and he just now decided to get it off his computer by posting it (um. Yeah.),

Actually, what I said was that I wanted to get it off of my work computer. I do not like having personal files on my work computer, but most of the time I have to work on blog stuff happens during my lunch and my break from work. By putting this on my blog, I could delete the file from my computer at work and still change the list while I’m at my job by accessing my blog and editing it, which I’ve done several times since posting it. That’s not so very nefarious, is it?

So this brave, swimming against the tide poster has taken the Women in Refrigerators list (this in itself is not a problem - no need to reinvent the wheel, after all) and for almost every woman on that list, he found several men who had similar injuries (or injuries he judged to be similar) and from that he deduced that more men are injured than women and so the feminists should have no complaints.

No, I didn’t deduce that. What I said was only that I was UNCONVINCED that women are killed or treated worse than men. That's not the same as saying that men are treated worse. Personally, I think women and men are about equally likely to die or get tortured or kidnapped or have their powers removed or whatever. But I'm not sure of that. I'm not sure we have a good idea of who (if anyone) is or isn't treated worse. My post says that WiR doesn't prove anything because, as you said, it doesn't compare actual percentages of characters of the different genders and what has happened to them. It just makes a list of bad things that have happened to women, but it's often treated as if the list makes some statement about how women are treated differently than men. My list just makes the point that we should be unconvinced.

And I didn't make any awful, evil, manhating feminists claims. I am a feminist.

By framing my post as something that it wasn’t, then knocking down what I didn’t say, doesn’t that make your post the straw man?

Re: And another thing!

If I have something on my work computer I'd rather not be there, but isn't ready/appropriate for other eyes, I have a number of ways to get it off without posting it publicly.

Gael's list said, "Look how many women are injured" without the necessary (to me) comparison of how many women there are in general. Your list said, "But look how many *more* men are" without the necessary, to me, comparison of numbers of men vs. numbers of women. So it read as, "This argument is false because women aren't injured in the same numbers as men." If I read it incorrectly, I apologize.

I was also responding to the tone in the comments, which were pretty much, "Those evil feminists who don't care if white men are injured." Yeah, that's a joke, but it's a rather nasty one, and one you didn't take any issue against.

And I do admit to being arch about it in the title. I'm capable of making nasty jokes, too.